As we approach this part of the season we are closer to the national meet than we are to our summer miles, a lot of work is done, lots is left to be done. This race was to serve as a dress rehearsal on the course that NCAA’s will be held on in a little over one month. Approaching this race was about setting some sort of routine that can set up a successful NCAA meet.
As we arrived in Madison it wasn’t necessarily about making Pre-Nats like NCAA’s but setting the groundwork for NCAA’s to be like Pre-Nats. If we come in, take care of business, we have a game plan that should be relatively similar to the “real” big dance. This approach was one that should be encompassed in all-things, last year we were so successful at the pre-national meet and then we went to nationals and forgot to have the same simple approach at nationals. This year is different in that we intend to duplicate our race routine here, at the national meet in November to supply structure and familiarity to nationals. We know that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results would be insane, so we are focused on small changes that can lead to sustained excellence.
We aren’t clueless, we are aware of the striking similarities from this year to last... for example the “BYU vs. NAU” hype. Last year we were naive, we thought we were flat out better than NAU and that was something that we would prove at nationals. If you’re reading this then chances are you know how that mentality treated us, NAU came out and kicked our asses; pardon my language. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice... can’t get fooled again! I’m not saying we are going to beat NAU, in fact I’m in a way sort of saying the opposite. We want to win, it is our deepest desire. However cliche it may sound, it is what gets us up and out of bed every morning, it is the elephant in the room at all times. The difference here from this year to last is that we aren’t wasting energy on the outcome, they are damn good!
Race day was calm and crisp, the guys had a lightness to them. The weather in Wisconsin was chilly but probably nothing compared to what it will be in the middle of November. I was dressed for the colder weather, arm sleeves, gloves, and a headband to simulate what I will most likely need to wear at nationals. I was ready to race! As the gun was raised and we toed the line a prayer echoed in my head, “God give me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, courage to change what I can, and wisdom to know the difference”. This prayer is famous for its use in the Alcohol Anonymous book, but I find the mantra to be a soothing thought going into a race, we have so many variables out of our control, but by optimizing what we can control we increase our chance of a desired outcome. I also consider running to have a strong faith component, there are a lot of unknowns.
The race went just about how we planned, me and Mantz got out strong and by 4K there was about 6 BYU athletes lingering in the top 30. Mantz showed the country a glimpse of what he’s capable of, he lead the race with a fearless mind knowing the pack wasn’t too far back. I feel like this race didn’t begin until the final 2k. As we went into the last loop there was about 15 to 20 athletes together playing cat and mouse with Mantz. I was in the back of that group but felt relatively good and moved up slowly and well from 6 to 7k. As we hit the final uphill on the course we had just about 2 minutes to go and I was probably in 7th or 8th, there was a pack of 5 athletes I was in, meanwhile Mantz was battling with another athlete up front.
The Wisconsin course has an exciting finish. The finish line is visible for about 400m, spectators line both sides and it’s a slightly uphill gauntlet all the way in. As I approached the gauntlet there were bodies all in front of me, at this point I could see three teammates in front of me, McMillan only by a stride or two, while Mantz and Shumway were battling for the win up front. There was a boost of energy within me seeing them fight to win, and with about 200m to go I decided to reach down and throw in one last effort, I shifted gears and catapulted passing one athlete after another and as we approached the last 100m I passed Shumway and Mantz with authority moving into first place, before I knew it I crossed the line and was a Pre-national meet champion for the second year in a row.
In a lot of ways this meant a lot, it confirmed my fitness is coming along according to plan. In other ways this race meant very little, I knew last year I had won here and finished the season still feeling empty due to the final outcome. I’m still working toward one goal, finishing my career as a BYU cross country runner on a high note. Onto the next one!
Another stop on the tour. The Cougars of BYU made a quick stop in Norte Dame, an opportunity to assess where we are at as we inch closer to the big dance. This race wasn’t huge, most of the best in the country were in Madison running on the course where nationals will be held this year. After last season we decided to change a few things in our approach and a lot of that had to do with training up to this point in the season, we aren’t ready for that kind of test in September, and quite frankly we don’t see the point. This race was a glorified workout giving us some race experience to build on going forward.
We were excited to race here because regardless of the competition the course forced a fast aggressive start due to it’s narrowing nature. One of our weaknesses last year was responding well to a hot start. As the gun fired I did not get out well, no excuse other then I was not aggressive enough, the pack narrowed on me and I was in the back half of the race @ 400m. With the course being as narrow as it is I was determined to move up as quickly as I could, taking the first couple turns wide and some big surges. As we approached the mile I was about 3-5 seconds off the lead, not exactly the aggressive race I had envisioned; but I had told my guys not to be surprised by anything and here I was with my hand hovering over the panic button. As the race went on the pack thinned out and I was able to move up throughout the pack, I found myself around the top 10 to 15 at the halfway point, at this point I felt in control, there was plenty of race to be run and the leaders were just in contact, it gave me reassurance knowing that the leaders were my own teammates. As the we moved through 5k I felt strained but in rhythm, shortly after this as we moved into the final big loop of the course a gear change occurred that I could not respond to.
I felt at the time like I was running strong but I couldn’t get my turnover to increase and I maintained my place at the time of the move all the way to the finish line.
Luckily for me, my teammates made up for the way I had felt. I was our 5th man and 9th overall, McMillan and Carney went 1-2 and Mantz and Shumway went 5-6. I was very impressed with the way they ran and shortly after me was Jake Heslington in 11th. It’s reassuring knowing that my guys got me, and that if one part isn’t 100% the whole will still function smoothly. That being said, I know our best is well ahead of us, we are hungry, we are experienced, and we have the patience necessary to be good in November.
I raced this week for the first time in 3 months. The last time I raced was at the NCAA championships. I didn’t write a report for afterwards, which was a first since starting the website. At the time it was simply something I felt a loss of words for, I was upset; and I felt the races at NCAAs were a misrepresentation of the runner I am, the season I had, and the work I put in. It wasn’t until mid-July on a long run with NAU’s Harvey Nelson that I had even given the report a second thought. On that run he had mentioned that he was “anxiously awaiting” the report. I can only assume that this was his way of mocking the idea of the website altogether, he went on to mention that the entire NAU squad “loved” my reports. It was clear they used it for some sort of fuel, entertainment, or topic of playful banter on runs. I never really thought my competitors would read the site, maybe NAU is the only one... regardless, I write these reports to archive my thoughts and experiences as a runner, I feel like it helps me, and I’m happy if it entertains or helps others in any way.
Instead of just talking about my race, I thought it’d be nice to talk about the lessons I learned after running had simply failed to meet the expectations I set for it last school year. I’m going into my 5th year at BYU and I feel the previous 4 years have been an eventful time. I have been to every national meet since my freshmen year outdoors where I took 19th in the 5000m. Each one has offered different levels of success and different lessons to go along with it. My first experience was about tasting blood for the first time; the excitement of simply being there. My sophomore year was jam-packed with growth, I earned my first XC All-American Honor placing 32nd in Terre Haute, one week later I qualified for world XC at the Canadian champs with a 6th place finish. Indoors was by no means a thrilling time, I finished a modest 11th place in the 5000m and felt that the performance was underwhelming to say the least. But a short 3 months later I had the biggest breakthrough in performance to date. In Eugene at the NCAA outdoor champs I took 2nd place! A performance that redefined my potential in my eyes, it changed how my teammates, competitors, the media, and even I looked at myself. This was a performance that at the time made me feel like I had arrived at the top of the NCAA.
It was the following XC season where I would pick up right where I left off in Eugene, with big wins in the regular season at pre-nationals, and a team looking poised to compete for the NCAA championship, and in my eyes I was competing to win as an individual. When the big dance arrived in Louisville Kentucky, the same place I had been victorious just 4 weeks prior, I was nervous, anxious, angry, excited... you name it! I was emotional to say the least. When the gun fired, I shot out with adrenaline and was ready to fight alongside my brothers, but before too long my mind and body began to fail. I was struggling to stay up with guys I had been beating all season, I faded, and faded to finish a measly 39th. I ran as hard as I could on that day, but why was my “best” far from what I had expected and believed I could do. I immediately blamed my emotions and swore never to make the same mistake again. Indoors was a solid showing for me, I broke the school record for 5k, and ran a nice personal best in the 3k. Going into the indoor championships I was ranked 4th in the 5k and once again was competing to win, although this time I was determined to stay level headed. I did that and arrived to the line composed and determined. The race went out pedestrian and to make a long story short, I wasn’t in position to win and finished in 6th. Nothing to shake a fist at. I was headed into outdoors which brings us back to the beginning of this post, where as you know I was disappointed in my performance. I had qualified in the 5000m and 10000m, first up was the 10k.
The 10k was “my race”, or at least I thought that heading into it, my mind was at ease, emotions were as in check as they can be at the national meet inside Hayward field. Put simply, I felt unprepared to run the race that ensued on that day, the Kenyans of Alabama made it hard from the gun, my mind stayed calm and I attempted to reconnect as it settled and I did so, but Tyler Day of NAU put in another surge upfront and my legs were unwilling and unable to respond. I was shook, I still had 13 laps in the 10k and the race was over for me, I felt like I was in hell for every single one of those laps. I was confused again by the result of this race, I thought I was ready and fit, I thought I could compete with anyone, any day! No matter how this race felt I had to have a short memory and move on to the 5k in 48 hours. Heading into that race was a completely different challenge, it felt like my character was in question. Was I still the guy that could compete with anyone? I was determined to show that I was at least the kind of athlete to go down swinging. A rainy day on Hayward field made for a slow and strategic 5k, I could feel the 10k in my legs and the first few laps felt like a I couldn’t find my groove. As the pace slowed and I found myself on the outside, I shot into the lead basically saying “&*#$ it” and decided it was my turn to inflict some pain. I fought and surged for the next couple laps. I started to feel better and better and grew in faith that I could rally and have a respectable performance. With a kilometer to go the race really took flight, I felt my legs reminding me that I had decided to double at nationals, but at this point I was running with as much determination and grit as ever. I managed to eek out the 8th place spot in the 5k, no fireworks by any means. But this one meant as much to me as any race ever had.
So here we are, another year! The last hoorah! I’ve learned a lot of things the hard way, I’ve learned that emotions can get the best of you when you don’t channel them right. I’ve learned that in this sport if your constantly sizing yourself up next to the competition you’re wasting energy that could be focused on bettering yourself. I’ve learned I have weaknesses that I need to fix in order to lead my team and have the outcomes I desire.
Also, my squad is back and on a campaign of vengeance for ourselves, our coach, and our university! Here are some photos from a BYU-sweep season opener.
To start, I will explain the more questionable decisions I made at the regional meet. First, was the decision to wear the Nike 4%. It was quite simple, I was doubling and needed to save my legs for the national meet and the 5k to come. The 4% are a very comfortable and fast shoe and I have ran pretty fast workouts in them and was confident I could close well with them. (Spoiler: I did!)
Second, was my decision to blast the final 100m, win and then flex across the line. The 'survive and advance' mentality, is quite common for those slated to move on in the preliminaries, but going into this prelim, I wanted more than just a top 12 finish. I wanted to test fitness, and use this as a practice run for the NCAA final. I also had a lot of fun and got a little amped when I felt as good as I did in the final lap, I run because I enjoy it. That was me simply enjoying myself a bit outwardly.
Onto the race, I executed my race plan just as I drew it up, get out and into position early and relax. I got to the rail and in the top 10. The first mile was an absolute slog, as we came through 1600m in 5:09. Shortly after 2k, the pace got hot-ish and we were running anywhere from 68-71 second laps.
Robert Brandt of UCLA was out pushing the pace and thinning out the pack of runners. With the pace we were running and as the laps ticked off, I anticipated the group would dwindle, but when I’d glance at the Jumbotron I could see a massive pack on our heels.
The announcer continued to number the people in the pack and I couldn’t help but think about my guys and hope that they were right there with me. As we eclipsed halfway and the race began to unfold, Clayton and McMillan came up further into the pack reassuring me that we were together. I heard Isaac cheering for Mantz. 4 BYU guys fighting for the 12 tickets to Eugene. And another quartet just outside the top 12. Once my teammates were there I took comfort in knowing we had worked together all season, and if they were fighting, I could fight.
With 6 laps to go I moved out of the pack to get better position before the final moves were made. I surged into the front of the pack place and kept my eyes up on the breakaway athlete Robert Brandt. I didn’t want to go too hard with a group of 16 athletes right on my heels, but shortly after I took command of the chase pack, Gilbert Boit of Arkansas charged to the front and put in a big move. I was certain this move would be the one that broke the group into the final 12, and it would’ve had Boit been able to maintain his push. But, with 1200m to go, we ran a 71 second lap which was slow enough to allow the pack to bunch back up and gain a few additional athletes going into the final 800m.
The last two laps were pretty chaotic...I went all the way out to lane 3 in order to get out of being boxed in. There was still 13 men with the group and Brandt still had a sizable lead. I wanted to assure my ticket to Eugene and as I swung wide I shot up to the front again and was in second with 400m to go. The last lap was a mad dash with athletes sliding all around in position and I ended up getting passed again on the back stretch by a few of athletes.
I remained composed and stayed in position on the curve charging up a final burst in the last 100m, I went on to win. If you had a problem with the way I celebrated by simply flexing? Well, I don’t really run to please others. That was the culmination of my hard work. I will continue to flex.
Shout out to McMillan, Clayton, and Mantz for also advancing, these guys are fit and deserved it. Also, congrats to the other 8 western 10k athletes that advanced! Fun race and this is a stacked year in the 10k! Can’t wait for Nationals!
This was circled on the calendar for months. I’d been looking forward to running a super fast 10k and Payton is the place to do such a thing. As the race started I was nervous but not unusually so, I felt the natural feeling of knowing you’re about to go to a real dark place. The field was tough and I knew it would be, I have had the best training of my life over the past several months and it’s been uninterrupted. I was confident I was going to feel pretty good going with the pace. As the gun fired I attempted to find the rail and get into rhythm right around Baxter and McMillan.
This was where I wanted to be, this was how I envisioned the race. As we trotted along I could hear the splits being called lap by lap, I felt like we were moving well and wasn’t worried about the effort through the first 3200m, as we were just under 9 minutes. The next mile I felt myself slowly begin to fatigue and grew concerned because we were not even halfway through. It didn’t feel like the normal grind, I felt a little flat. Through 5k in 14:05 I was really laboring at this point. As each lap went on I felt a little worse and was beginning to feel sorry for myself a bit. I think the disappointment in my inability to stick on the goal caused negativity to soil my mind.
Running can be a cruel sport. It is intended to push us to our mental/physical limitations and inside most runners is a sick craving for the suffering. Looking back on my pre-race thoughts I wasn’t in the correct state of mind to suffer, I was fearful of the pain and uncertainty. I ended up fighting through the final 4K of the race knowing I had horribly missed my goals, but I pride myself on never quitting and I pushed my body lap after lap with small consolation goals of a personal best, or beating the man in front of me... that’s an awesome part of the sport, the small battles you go through each time you lace up those spikes.
I gutted out a 14:38 final 5k to finish in 28:43, which is a 15 second PB. I’m certainly capable of much more, I can certainly have a better attitude, and I know I belong with the best of them. I’m chalking this one up as an L, better at Payton Jordan than at NCAAs. I will turn that L into a lesson, I learned about my 10k self, what it feels like to run fast from the gun, and what I can try to do differently in a similar situation.
This one hurt in more ways than one, but I know I’m fit. I’ve got no choice but to trust that it’ll come together when it matters.
Key takeaways: this was my first real attempt at a time trial 10k ever. I need to stay level headed about everything moving forward.
Be ready for pain, embrace the pain. If it hurts it’s cause you’re doing it right, not wrong! Running is supposed to hurt! Be tough, be a winner
It was a perfect night in Southern California, winds were low temperatures were moderate and we were under the lights at El Camino College. There were a lot of tough runners in the race, and due to a few scratches they decided to combine the fast sections into one mega-section of 37 really good 5k runners! This could’ve been mass chaos especially considering Mt. Sac doesn’t provide rabbits for any of the races. Luckily for me, my teammate Clayson Shumway had been so kind as to accept the role of sacrificial lamb and set the pace at something nice and hot.
As the gun fired Clayson darted to the front at much faster than 5k pace, I did my best to get out strong and avoid the masses, after about 100m I had to holler to the athletes in front of me that Clayson was the rabbit and to get on his butt! It was all good. We went through 200m in 31, and 400m in 63. Just fast enough to avoid a causing an LA traffic jam. I was in about 3rd or 4th, as we began to settle into goal pace (65s). Through 2k Clayson did his duties to the best of his abilities and we were only a few seconds off as I came through in 5:28.
In a perfect world we would have remained with our feet on the gas, cruising 65s; but as soon as Clayson stepped aside to allow the racing to begin it resulted in an inconsistent pace, one lap we were single file and then the next we’d be 3-4 wide on the turns. I did my best to stay relaxed while maintaining contact with the leaders. It was around 3200m and an athlete from Brazil was in the lead when all of a sudden he got angry, threw his hands up, and surged ahead. I responded as the race once again yo-yo’d in pace. This Brazilian athlete (da Silva) was a rio Olympic steeplechaser and placed 9th in the final. The decorated foreigner was toying with the field by changing pace a few times over the mid-to-late stages. Finally, as the dust settled from all the chaos, I decided I needed to act soon and get in position to try and win.
It was with 900m to go I got on the outside of lane 1 ready to strike, and on the back stretch of the second to last lap I accelerated into the lead. I could tell I was already running thin on the gears remaining in my legs but decided to red-line and make a steady push to the finish. The Brazilian and a Kenyan athlete from Campbell went around me on the home stretch and I latched on as we heard the bell. I was able to hold onto the back of these athletes but with 300m to go I knew I had no change in gears left. It was a war of attrition. I tried to stay relaxed in the shoulders and drive my legs into the finish line and was able to maintain my position for 3rd in 13:37.98, the winner was 13:37.06. Our final 600m was 1:29, and final 400m was 58. Nothing crazy, but I know with some sharpening and a taper come championship season, I will have the wheels necessary to win in these situations.
This race marks the one year anniversary of my race reports! I really enjoy writing about my races and documenting the feelings and all that surrounds each race. I had two very simple goals coming into this weekend: run very fast and compete to win. I feel like with those considered it was a successful weekend and I came away with a 4 second personal best and was 3rd in a close finish. The big one is next Thursday the Payton Jordan 10k and I couldn’t be more excited for a regular season meet than I am for this one. Stay tuned
The forecast had heavy rains and wind all day Saturday but instead of getting upset over the inability to post fast times, I took this as an opportunity to get a great workout and championship style race experience. Too often people are obsessed with the next personal best and forget how to race, I find myself getting thrown into the same thought process for meets. If you simply compete and race you’ll get the times you seek.
The 1500m was first and it was obvious that the race was going to be a strategic affair due to heavy winds on the home stretch. Our first lap was quite honest as I found myself settled somewhere in the middle of the pack. This was my first 1500m ever and in the second lap I found myself way too settled and as 800m to go approached I kind of had to wake up and start competing. I felt great but was behind an antsy pack of runners. I wanted to be in a place to strike in the final lap so I attempted to move up and got myself somewhere mid pack. This was very different than a 5k in that everyone was still in the race and was clearly feeling good still. As the bell rang I was ready to shoot my shot and we swung onto the back stretch. With 250 to go I swung out into lane 3 and went to the rail before the turn with one giant burst. I was in 3rd and was going at my max effort at this point. As we came off the bowerman curve there were a handful of runners that engulfed me as I was stuck in my pace. I ended up getting just passed as a blanket finish of runners came in, with me at the back of it. Finished 7th in a tactical rainy 1500 in a time of 3:51. It was fun to compete and I was proud of the move I made even though it was about a tenth of a second from being enough.
2 hours later the rain and wind had only increased and the track was covered in puddles of rain. For the first time since grade 12 I was running 2 events at a track meet in the same day. The plan was for me and my teammate Connor McMillan to push the pace with 3-4 laps to go and come away with a 1-2 finish. And the rain and wind made for a very slow first couple laps in the 3000m. We were sloshing through the puddles in one pack jogging a pedestrian 3:01 first K. It wasn’t till the end of the second K that things started heating up to a respectable clip. As we reached 4 laps to go the Oregon athlete that had been in charge of pacing duties had a substantial gap on the field that I was in the middle of, as we passed his coach Andy Powell I heard him tell his athlete (Cooper Teare) to try and run away with it if the pack wouldn’t go with him. As soon as that instruction was given I moved and brought the field right up onto the rabbit.
He stepped off the track about 400m later and McMillan and I were taking turns at the front pushing the pace gradually toward the finish. As I took the lead from McMillan with 800m to go an Oregon athlete (Travis Neuman) made his big push to the finish with the wind at his back on the back stretch. He immediately gapped the field and a Washington athlete went with. McMillan and I knew that was probably a move that would be reeled back in so we just gradually accelerated to the bell lap closing the gap that was formed during the previous 300m.
As the bell rang I was in 3rd and McMillan was in 4th. On the back stretch Tanner Anderson of Oregon made his move to the finish and McMillan and I responded quickly keeping him in reach. As we hit the wet corner of the track with 200m to go I went all out in an attempt to win the race, I caught Anderson but McMillan still had me by a few strides and he ended up holding me off the last 100m but it was a team sweep and a really fun race in the rain so I was thrilled.
It’s not so often that you can race purely for fun and this was one of those times and I was glad to have that experience! Hayward field is special, and I can’t wait to come back to have more fun in June. Training has been going great and I’m ready for something fast soon...stay tuned!
This race to me was all about having the right mindset and using it as springboard into outdoors. I came into the meet ranked #4 in the NCAA and my goal was to compete to win.
As the gun fired I wanted to get out in a good position knowing how critical position is on a 200m track. I had very little expectations as far as the pace of the race was concerned, I was okay with either a fast or slow race. But it became apparent very fast that it was gonna be SLOW. After the first 200m was honest everybody slammed on the breaks and we came to a pedestrian jog! I didn’t see the point in being stuck in the middle of a jog fest, so I made my way up to the lead.
When I got to the front I remained relaxed and didn’t want to hang myself out to dry by hammering the pace. I knew my best chance was to remain within myself until someone else gained the courage to make a move. I didn’t know at the time but nobody was gaining any courage until a mile to go. So we came through 2 miles slower than 10k pace and geared up for what would surely be an all out last mile.
Grant Fischer of Colorado State was the first to move, with a Mile to go he started running 32 second laps and it did very little to string things out as everyone was able to respond and I got pushed back to 4th or 5th. I was on the inside and people were coming around me trying to get their best view of the front and I could feel as if I was losing control of my own fate. After several fast laps of shuffling around the middle of the pack, I decided to make a move to get back up front. As I went to the outside my legs got tangled with the guys around me and I felt a push on my back.. I began to go down and went to catch myself and did, but in the process of saving myself from falling on my face I sprained my ankle. With 500m to go I had a jolt of pain and my momentum was slowed, I had no time to think... I just acted and fought my way back up.. I was in 9th and we had 400m to go. I attempted to swing wide on the back stretch but was denied as we headed into the turn by other athletes attempting the same thing. I passed one athlete and was in 8th with 200m to go. As the bell rang I still had much left from the pedestrian pace, but so did my competitors and I couldn’t pass with the momentum I had hoped for. It wasn’t till the final 50m where I swung wide and was able to move up two more places to claim 6th place!
This was not my dream race, I couldn’t walk.. I was pulled right into drug testing, but I had left it all out there. I never stopped believing, I never stopped competing and I felt I had done the most with the circumstances. Sometimes the race result is a little out of your control, you can choose to learn and grow, or take a defeat out of not reaching your place goal. I choose to look at this as a race where I competed, got great experience and grew as an athlete. I’m so excited for more outdoors, and I’m really excited for 400m tracks...
The goal going into this race was to compete well and qualify for NCAAs which required a 7:53.xx. My personal best was 7:55 and I felt that I was certainly ready to improve on that. It was a solid field with guys all thinking the same thing as myself, we had my teammate Clayson Shumway set to rabbit us through the first portion of the race in about 63 second 400s.
As the gun fired I had inside position and just about everyone came in on top of me and shot me out towards the back quarter of the field. I quickly fought to get closer to the intended pace behind the rabbit and to make matters worse we were about 2 seconds slow through 800m. This was no time to panic though, plenty of time to make it up and get under the required mark.
It was a really physical race throughout and the first mile felt like a battle for position, as Clayson stepped off the track their was a moment of hesitation up front as I was in about 3rd or 4th and this moment was a critical error. The runner in first slowed and I had troubles getting around him until about 300m later, this cost us a second or two on the race and at that moment I knew we would have to close like crazy in order to qualify for nationals.
I came through 1600m in 4:16 which was about 3-4 seconds slower than I needed to be, I was comfortable and knew I could take some of that time off in the next 1400m. The pace quickened but the field was so antsy that it made it really hard to move up. I found myself waiting for a good opportunity to move and as the time and laps progressed my window of opportunity was closing.
With about 800m to go I was in 3rd or 4th and the pace was accelerated, it was going to take something incredible to qualify, with about 600m to go 2 athletes moved around and began to push the pace, I decided to ride this wave and matched. We were really cooking now, I felt really good and was making moves as the final laps progressed. A Stanford Athlete (Fahy) made a big move with 400m to go that seemed to be decisive and towards the finish. I pushed to latch on, but one Colorado Athlete (Forsyth) stood between us. I passed Forsyth on the back stretch on the inside and began to close rapidly on Fahy’s heels. As we came around the final turn I swung wide and pumped my arms and squeezed every last ounce of power out of my oxygen deprived legs. I was able to pass Fahy while looking at the clock I saw the national qualifying time pass just before I crossed. I ended up missing the mark by just under a second. I closed the last 600m in 1:28, but needed somewhere around 1:26-27. 7:54.2 the clock read and I was happy to run a personal best and win the race, unless 3 athletes scratch in front of me I will only be running the 5000m @ NCAAs this year.
Next stop College Station.
Since the end of cross country this was a race I had circled on the calendar. Nothing beats an opportunity to compete with the best and run really fast. Leading up to the race I felt great, training so far this year has been seamless, I’ve felt really consistent and strong. But, what I felt best about going into this race wasn’t my training, it wasn’t the competition, it was my mentality and state of mind. So often in this sport it’s easy to get lost in comparing yourself to your competitors and since cross it’s been a real focus of mine to just do me. Friday night was where I felt I had an opportunity to take the new attitude and just run my best. I’m not saying I wasn’t concerned with places, I’m not saying I didn’t want to beat people, I’m a competitor and when the gun goes off I compete. What I did though was focus on what I can control and just give it everything.
As the gun fired I followed Justyn knowing that he was probably going to put himself in a situation to win. We found ourselves mid-pack once things settled and we were on the train. The pace felt really comfortable as we came through the first few 400m splits. Most people don’t like hearing splits, I honestly hear every... single... one... probably to a fault. In this case hearing the splits didn’t really mean much I was really relaxed and clipping along. We came through the 2 mile a little bit off the desired 8:48, I was in about 6th-8th place and came through in 8:53. It was worth noting that the Iowa state coach was screaming that we needed to pick up the pace because the current pace wasn’t fast enough to qualify for NCAAs. I remained really calm knowing that the last mile was going to be hot and we could shave off plenty of time, I still felt really relaxed. As we came to about 1200m to go the pace began to really quicken. I felt as if there was a group of a few runners breaking away and gaining momentum. As one 300m lap clicked off after another as we approached 600 to go we were undoubtedly reaching an honest clip. I felt as if I was simply being pulled and just enjoying the ride, time was moving really fast and I felt as if I was on autopilot until the bell. As the bell sounded I was amongst 7 athletes that were separated by no more than a half second.
At this point Justyn catapulted to the front and I found myself trapped in the tail end of a group three a breast. This was my one tactical error of the race. As the initial uptick in pace happened I assumed we would thin out and I would make my way to the front but the group hung tough and it wasn’t till the final 60 meter straight that I was able to swing wide and pass some of the athletes in front of me. I passed one group of 3 runners and was in lane 3 with the finish line quickly approaching and ran out of real estate before I could get another. I wasn’t too concerned with my single error, I immediately looked up at the Jumbotron where they were displaying finishing times.
There was a delay as Justyn’s time showed, then Dillon, then Vincent, it was this moment that my time appeared and I had a jolt of joy! I had broken the BYU indoor school record for 5k by 0.96 seconds! I was proud of the effort and overcome with a feeling of accomplishment.
With my ticket to NCAAs booked I look forward to running a fast 3k in Seattle next week and attempting to get my second race for NCAAs clinched. It will take a miraculous effort to beat coach Eyestone’s school record of 7:47 in the event but I’m going to squeeze every second out of my body.
This was the first time in my collegiate career that I was going to be doing two events in the same meet and I was excited for the challenge and to see how my body responded. This might sound very simple to High School athletes that run 3 or 4 races in every invitational, but the intensity of collegiate racing usually requires you put all your eggs in one basket.
First up was the Distance Medley Relay. The DMR is one of the things that makes indoor season so fun for middle distance runners as they have the option of running with a baton in hand with and for their teammates, something undeniably special. This was the first time in my collegiate career that I was asked to be a member of our DMR team, and I was set to run the anchoring 1600m leg. Running the DMR was a last minute decision for our team as Oregon had contacted our coach to ask if we were interested in pursuing a qualifying mark. We felt it was a great opportunity to see where we are at and get some race experience on a 200m banked track.
Race day came about and my team and I were excited to compete and attempt to run 9:30ish which is what it takes to qualify for indoor nationals in most recent years. Excited to open the season and compete at New York’s historic Armory for the first time ever. The first leg of the DMR is a 1200m and we had Marcus Dickson running and as the gun fired he found himself somewhere in the top 3-4 throughout and was able to maintain that as he handed to our 400m leg and split 2:57. Our 400m leg (Max Scheible) ran an impressive 47.xx to move us into 2nd place. At this point Oregon had taken a substantial 3 or 4 second lead, but Abraham Alvarrado, our 800m leg, got the baton and accelerated like a bat out of Hell…it was obvious he was going to close the gap on Oregon. In the final 200m he found another gear and was catching Oregon quickly. As he rounded the final turn he passed Oregon to split 1:47.xx and handed me the baton in first.
I took off with the race plan coach Eyestone and I had discussed... “Run as even split of a race as possible and then kick my ass off”. The first 400 was perfect 60.xx and Prakel of Oregon (3:57 miler) was still sitting on my heels until 450m where his coach Andy Powell told him he had to pick up the pace. I tried to stay on his. Shoulder but as we approached 600-700m I found that his clip was a bit past my comfort zone and he began to pull away. The next few laps were mentally tough; I kept running 60.5-61 splits and I was 2-3 seconds ahead of 3rd and 2-3 seconds behind 1st. Coming through 1200m in 3:03.xx I dug deep to attempt to change gears for my team and just didn’t have anything all that special on this night ended up closing in 60 flat and running 4:03.59 and anchoring the team to 2nd and a 9:36.10.
The DMR was okay, I ran the planned race tactic but was just a little short of the bar I had set. It was time to shift my focus to the 3k that was in about 18 hours. I got a good dinner and a good nights rest to prepare for another hard effort. The 3k has been a race I have had a difficult time figuring out so far in my collegiate career and I was looking to shake that and really figure it out. To me, the 3k feels a lot like the mile, you red line most of the race and that’s something that I decided I had to embrace even if it was against my preferred chill and kill race tactics.
As I toed the line, I felt nervous and excited for my 2nd race of the weekend, I was one of 5 collegians in the field of 16 elite distance runners. As the gun fired I was near the back of the pain train and was splitting 32 low to 31 high throughout the first 1600m and came through in about 4:15 and was in maybe 8th or 9th. A little slower than needed for NCAA qualification mark so over the next 400m I started making moves to better my chances of running 7:53.xx (the needed mark for NCAAs). I made two large moves in the latter stages of the race and the first was with 1k to go as I moved up to about 6th place and found myself feeling pretty good with this change of pace. The leaders had a couple meters of a gap on me and small pack of runners and with 600m to go I made a big surge to reel them in and separated from the group I was with and was alone in 4th. My head was down as I grit my teeth for the hope of closing really strong (needed to run 1:30.0 last 600m to qualify). I was still alone with 250 to go I looked at the clock and needed to run 27 seconds for the last 200m to hit 7:53.xx. I lowered my head once again to dig as deep as I could and with about 150m to go had realized I didn’t have another gear. I began to tighten up and was out-kicked by 2 athletes in the last 25m... I ran 7:55.10.
I was really happy with my efforts and proud of the way I competed regardless of result. The result was still a 3 second PR and a great way to kick off my indoor season. A year ago, this same weekend, I ran 7:58 on fresh legs on an oversized track. This attempt was the day after a hard 1600m and on a 200m banked track. I’m going forward with the same big hairy goals as I had prior to this race, next stop Iowa.